The next EU members and immigration

The debate of what approach the UK should adopt to the potential immigrants from the next two accession countries to the European Union, Romania and Bulgaria, has intensified. The Tories have called for curbs and Labour is promising “no open door” . The DUP’s Jim Allister is supporting limits but Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has attacked him for suggesting restrictions. The latest Sunday Times poll indicates that the British public, in particular women, want stronger immigration restrictions put in place.The Government previously underestimated the numbers (and may still be doing so) that planned to move and stay in the UK from the previous accession countries and many, from across the political spectrum question whether such large numbers are sustainable. The benefits or otherwise of an open migration policy are the centre of much debate, although Tony Blair has rejected calls for a cost benefit analysis of mass immigration arguing the debate should focus on the appropriate level.

Furthermore considering the different regional performances within the UK can one immigration policy fit all? Southern England does have clear labour shortages while across the UK there can be particular skills shortages e.g. health sector. However, as Northern Ireland and other regions, still suffer from high levels of economic inactivity the same case of a labour shortage cannot be made, does it make sense to import labour to entry level jobs? Would a toughening up of the welfare system produce greater benefits than the importation of labour in some parts of the UK including here?